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NFL

Carolina Panthers’ David Tepper terminates construction on new training facilities

Panthers owner David Tepper lays the blame at the City’s door step after failed negotiations regarding funding.

Paul Rudder
Update:
Carolina Panthers terminate construction on new training facilities
Jacob KupfermanGetty Images

After failed negotiations between the franchise and the city of South Carolina, it now seems that the wait for a new home will continue.

Carolina Panthers pull the plug on new facility

As the Carolina Panthers continue their hunt for a franchise quarterback, it also appears that their search for a home for their new practice facility will continue as well. According to a report, just a month after pausing construction on an $800 million state-of-the-art headquarters and training facilities in Rock Hill, South Carolina, the Panthers have now out rightly terminated the agreement that was in place with the City of Rock Hill. Indeed, franchise owner David Tepper took the decision with his GT Real Estate Holdings confirming on Tuesday that due to a failure to resolve funding problems, they would be walking away from the project.

Details on the Panthers’ facility and why it failed

Initiated back in 2020 - just two years after Tepper became owner - the proposed new facility was apparently designed to house a nearly 700,000-square-foot facility on a 240-acre site, along with an indoor practice field. To date, it is understood that Tepper has invested more than $175 million into the construction of the facility, which is located about 25 miles south of the team’s current downtown stadium and headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina. What exactly happened? According to reports Rock Hill failed to secure $225 million in bonds to fund roads, sidewalks and other public infrastructure on the site, which in turn led to Tepper’s decision to walk away.

With a completion having been set for 2023, the compound now sits half finished and without any activity. Ironically the Panthers’ official website continues to advertise Rock Hill as the future home of the “world class” facility. For the moment the Panthers continue to be based in Charlotte, North Carolina, with Tepper’s company saying, “...Accordingly, we are prepared to sit down with the City and other interested parties to discuss the significant challenges ahead.”

What’s David Tepper’s side of the story?

According to the statement provided by David Tepper’s company, the fault lies squarely with the City of Rock Hill. “On February 26, 2021, the City of Rock Hill became delinquent on their obligation to fund the public infrastructure,” the statement reads. “Despite our persistent efforts throughout 2021, the City of Rock Hill failed to issue the bonds or provide the funding for the public infrastructure for the project. ...It is unfortunate that some recently decided to conduct a misguided, destructive public relations campaign to obscure their failures. We have sent notices to the City to formally terminate the previous agreements.”

The City of Rock Hill responds to David Tepper

As one can imagine the Panthers owner’s words were not well received by city officials who pushed back against Tepper’s allegations on Tuesday, calling them “misleading and erroneous.” Indeed, city officials actually said they not only embraced the Panthers but welcomed the project to South Carolina saying they “did everything to make this project a success.” The statement went further. “It was and remains our intention to continue negotiating in good faith while protecting the interests of our taxpayers,” the City of Rock Hill said in a statement to The Associated Press. “In fact, in the past few weeks we have attempted to meet with the Panthers on numerous occasions to no avail.”

It should be said that South Carolina and the Panthers have a long standing relationship. The team actually played its first season back in 1995 at Clemson University while its present day home - the Bank of America Stadium - was being built. The statement also included comments from South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster who called the Panthers announcement a “disappointment” on Tuesday. “We had hoped they would be a part of South Carolina’s record-breaking, booming economy,” McMaster said. Incidentally, South Carolina lawmakers approved a bill back in 2019 that would have seen the Panthers benefit from more than $100 million in tax breaks once the facility opened. With that the franchise would have been exempt from paying state income taxes for players, coaches and other employees for 15 years. To that end those in opposition of the agreement criticized that idea that the state itself was helping the NFL’s wealthiest owner who has an approximate worth of $11 billion.

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